Joseph Marbach, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, will be leaving Seton Hall this summer to accept the Provost position at LaSalle University in Philadelphia. His last day on the campus will be July 14.
The Setonian caught up with Marbach for a phone interview this week – likely one of his last interviews for the campus newspaper.
Q: You are from the South Jersey/Philadelphia area, correct?
A: Yes, I live in Florence and I’m originally from Philadelphia. I also am a LaSalle alum, class of ’83.
Q: Did this move (to become LaSalle’s Provost) happen because you’re an alum?
A: It’s the principle reason. I wasn’t on the market. But LaSalle is very appealing because it’s a chance to go back home to a place that was very formative in my life. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. The previous Provosts were there for 13 years and 20 years, respectively.
Q: How has your time as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences prepared you for this change?
A: Being a dean is one of the more complex jobs on campus. You can see all aspects of higher education. The size and diversity of the College of Arts and Sciences can also give you a perspective on how much is offered. And, running a college is like running a small university… and we’re (the College of Arts and Sciences) really not that small. It’s the diversity and complexity of the job that has best prepared me for the Provost position.
Q: Is there a strong comparison to be made between LaSalle and Seton Hall?
A: LaSalle is about three-quarters the size of Seton Hall. Both are launching divisions of continued education, a reward system for faculty, among other items. I also think each is trying to carve out a market niche for higher education in the area. LaSalle has to compete locally with schools like St. Joe’s and Villanova. Seton Hall does so, too, with schools like St. John’s, Villanova, too, and Fordham. LaSalle is also in the implementation phase of its strategic plan. There are a whole lot of similarities.
Q: What about the students?
A: I would say there are a lot of similarities for students, too. LaSalle does seem to have a greater percentage of first-generation college students.
Q: Talk to us about the reorganization of the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as what the university is going through with administrative changes, layoffs, etc.
A: The overall restructuring is very painful. Arts and Sciences had to lay off a number of good and talented people. It’s a time where we’re trying to do more with less.
Q: Thoughts on Dr. Gabriel Esteban’s appointment as interim president?
A: It’s really a very good move, especially in terms of the impact on academic affairs. I’m very hopeful for the immediate future of Seton Hall.
Q: Looking back, where do you leave the College of Arts and Sciences for your eventual successor?
A: I think the college is better positioned to assess programs. The reorganization has “broken down silos” that existed before. Now, new faculty are coming together to share ideas and collaborate. The college is poised to move ahead and the changes will allow the faculty to generate some creativity.
Q: Final thoughts about Seton Hall?
A: I’m very grateful to the university. Seton Hall has been a great place for someone in my situation – starting and raising a family. It always has that family feel. I will miss the place and the people quite a bit. It’s the people here that have really touched me the past 16 years.
Brian Wisowaty can be reached at email@example.com.